DocsPlus screenshot

John Galloway checks out a truly inclusive literacy tool for all – 'DocsPlus' from Crick Software

Sometimes a replacement for a well-known software title seems to be not much more than tweaking existing functions and changing the packaging.

Not so with Crick Software. Following on from the radical upgrade that gave us a new, improved primary toolkit, Clicker 7, the company has now replaced its product for secondary school students, WriteOnline, with an even more impressive DocsPlus.

Bett 2017 entrance

When popular BETT Show veterans start pulling out it's worth asking them why

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" sang Bob Dylan on his album Subterranean Homesick Blues. And you don't need to be a market analyst to take serious note of the withdrawal of longtime educational technology companies like Crick Software, Kudlian Software and Wordshark from the annual BETT Show behemoth in Docklands.

While it hardly constitutes a stampede from BETT 2018, the reasons behind it — massive costs and the increasing scarcity of their ideal potential customers, classroom teachers — are worrying indicators for a huge trade show that depends on a healthy education sector rather than one facing rounds of severe cuts.

Child using computer

Facebook will join academics at London international children’s digital rights forum

“Unless and until Governments – ours and others – stop giving tech a free pass, we will have a situation where the needs of multinational corporations are given precedent over the needs of children.” That’s the stark warning from children's rights campaigner and filmmaker Baroness Beeban Kidron.

She will be speaking at the Information Law and Policy Centre’s (ILPC) Annual Conference 2017 – Children and digital rights: regulating freedoms and safeguards at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London next week (November 17).

Cover "After the reboot"

What is the difference between computing and computer science? It's the problem at the heart of a subject in crisis

The computing curriculum being followed by schools in England is in serious trouble and requires urgent Government intervention. That's the key finding from a report – “After the Reboot: The State of Computing Education in UK Schools and Colleges” – based on a survey commissioned by the people partly responsible for the debacle, the Royal Society, along with its collaborators the BCS - The Chartered Institute of IT and the Royal Academy of Engineering  

The report was launched last week at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester along with a call for a further £60 million of funding, presumably to go to the same organisations behind the current 'force-feeding' of computer science to children at the expense of the wider skills and digital literacy called for industry and the Royal Society's previous report "Shut down or restart".

Sam Millar

Sal McKeown on a student whose Excel skills won him a trip to the US and a cash prize

It seems that in Britain we are good at quite a few things, and one of them appears to be a spreadsheet – Microsoft's Excel. Sam Millar, a 22-year-old student at University of St Andrews in Scotland, was recently named the Silver Medallist in Microsoft Excel – and picked up $3,500 prize money – at the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.